Once in awhile, a new product hits the market that can be a game changer. In my opinion, the EazyHold flexible universal cuffs, appear to have accomplished this by helping children (and adults) with physical disabilities. Since I have a big interest in entrepeneurship, I thought it would be great to hear about the story behind the EazyHold. Plus, as pediatric occupational and physical therapists day in and day out, we constantly adapt items on the fly. This product seems to be a simple solution to help children grasp items such as toys, utensils and more so children can increase their independence. (This post include affiliate links).
Here is the Q&A with Kerry Mellin, one of three sisters who created the EazyHold.
Q: How was EazyHold conceived?
While preparing for a family holiday I grabbed my broom and went to sweep out the barn. But due to the arthritis in my thumbs I was having a really hard time gripping onto the brooms handle and sweep after sweep it only became more painful. I was determined to finish the job though, family was coming soon so I grabbed some duct tape, made a loop across the broom handle and slipped my hand inside. I was really surprised how effortless it felt having this little bit of support over my the back of my hand! I was able to maintain control sweep after sweep with very minimal amount of grip and this little bit of leverage.
Hmm, I wondered if there was anything like this on the market? My only knowledge of ADLs was when I spent a year at Northridge Hospitals OT Center 30 years prior as a volunteer. I remembered the old fabric and leather cuffs, but they were not very adaptable or hygienic. Had they improved?
So later when my sisters were over for the holiday, we started talking about the arthritis the runs in our family and the challenges that we were all having and probably many other people were having and I told them about my trouble that day and showed them the duct taped broom. Couldn’t we come up with a better solution to alleviate some of the pain of everyday tasks by giving a little grip support? We started brainstorming. We wanted something soft, adaptable and comfortable. So we grabbed a silicon pot holder from the kitchen, cut a couple of holes in it and slid it over the broom handle. Voila!
We decided that very day to innovate a new product that would help people get a grip on objects. (After a bit of research we discovered that there had been no improvements made in the old universal cuffs that I had used 30 years back!) Our idea was to make something that would fit on brooms, paint brushes and outdoor equipment that people might want to use during their daily activities.. Little did we know there was a HUGE special needs community of children as well as adults who desperately needed this long overdue problem solver for utensils, writing implements and even toys!
We got to work the very next day doing all the prototyping making ourselves. We learned to to sculpt clay and make molds. We learned to mix, color, pour and to cure silicone. We designed 20 different sizes and styles of EZs and made about 1000 samples EZs to trial on every ADL we could think of. And then we really got to work!
With, boots on the ground we went from school to clinic to therapy center to hospital. We initially tried to set up appointments with therapists and doctors, but the receptionists had no protocol to fit us in, after all we had no medical background or degrees. So we would camp out in the waiting room until we saw a therapist walk by and we’d ambush them with prototypes in hand and show them how much more effective are little straps were compared to the devices they were familiar with.
We dropped off samples to professionals all over Southern California sending them out for trialing at educational facilities, nursing homes, pediatric hospitals and to the parents of special needs children.
We went to flea markets and set up booth with all the things that EazyHold could adapt to and got amazing feedback from from a wide variety of people who told us what they could use it for as well!
The response was pretty profound. We went to the Abilities Expo and were overwhelmed by the positive response by therapists. We starting started getting requests from all over the country for more samples and invites from hospitals to show their staff of nurses and therapists how our products worked. The word of mouth from parents of special needs children was phenomenal. They were so anxious for any new innovation that can help their kids, that the word spread rapidly. EazyHold, the first silicone, universal cuff and grip assist for a child sized hand was available!
Every therapist and physician we’ve talked with about EazyHold has said of this simple invention, “Where has this product been and why hasn’t it been invented before?” The reality was… It’s a melding of old and new ideas. The old “universal cuff ” made better by utilizing a relatively new material called silicone, which doesn’t harbor bacteria and is easily washed and dried, and so for the first time can be used and reused in care facilities, is soft and stretchy, super adaptable and it fits a much wider range of sizes! From tiny infant hands on a bottle, to an adult on a garden tool.
Q: Do you manage the EazyHold from start to finish?
As three sisters, we run all the day to day operations, from packaging and fulfilling orders, to marketing and reaching out to therapy centers, schools, hospitals and assisted living facilities. We have been selling EazyHold for a year and a half. EazyHold is Trademarked and Patent Pending.
We have a facebook page and what a joy it is to wake up every day to photos and videos posted by the parents of the children who are using our products to do the things they have never been able to do before. To drink, eat, play music, brush their own teeth!
We receive messages every day saying thanks to EazyHold, my little girl has been able to draw her first Valentine’s Day card. We are seeing children who have never held onto an action figure or a doll now learning to play and explore new learning opportunities. We are hearing every day from excited parents who are seeing what their special needs child can accomplish and achieve independently with this little assistance.
Q: What is your #1 tip for entrepreneurs?
We invented our product just about 2 years ago in 2014. But because I have sisters whom I love and trust we were able to bring our product to market in a year. So my suggestion is to make sure you have a good team around you for support. Be it financial, creative, or just “boots on the ground” it takes a lot of hard work and commitment, and a team to lift you when you hit a road block and push you forward with fresh ideas and inspiration!
As baby boomers my sisters Merrily and Wendy and I have all had fulfilling careers: Merrily in Early Childhood Development. Wendy in Food services and Art, and myself, Kerry, a Costume Designer for the entertainment industry. Our combined work history and talents have enabled us to innovate and create a new product and business. That while initially born of necessity because of the arthritis in our own hands, has now become a labor of love ,and is driven and thriving due to the intense desire to create useful tools for therapists, teachers, caregivers and parents of children with special needs who deserve the chance to play and learn and create with the joy of independence!
Q: Where can we find the EazyHold?
We sell on our website at http://eazyhold.com/ and Amazon.
We also have 10 distributors across the globe.
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